• North Carolina NCDOT-Amtrak Carolinian Service

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by Woody
Bob Roberts wrote:
NJTSmurf wrote: ... the Carolinian ... almost every time the train is sold out. (It's usually pretty full going across the Virginia/NC border, but there is definitely a lot of VA only traffic) ... I'd assume the easiest thing to do is add another coach car? ... not sure where the Amfleet would come from ...
Consist size on the Carolinian has been limited by the length of the layover siding in Charlotte. NCDOT is about midway through construction of a larger facility a couple miles miles west of the current siding (ARRA funded) that should be opened within the next year. An additional Amfleet (or two) should push the train into the profitable category -- so I am genuinely puzzled about the talk of route extension.
I'm likewise puzzled. I've been expecting a banner year for the Carolinian FY2018.
* New facility in Charlotte.
* New station in Raleigh.
* Upgraded the shared Piedmont segment Raleigh-Charlotte (eliminating many grade crossings, easing curves, etc) taking 20 or 30 minutes out of the run time, to allow an earlier return to Charlotte and a sleep-later departure.
* Adding another Piedmont frequency, making a stronger corridor for every train using it.

A broadus or two from Virginia:
* A Stimulus grant is paying to add a third or fourth track on a short stretch near Quantico between D.C. and Richmond, aiming to chop 10 minutes out of that schedule.
* Virginia is paying for some time-saving tweaks between Richmond and Petersburg to prepare for the second Norfolk train coming next year.

With all this good stuff happening, FY2018 is looking great for the Carolinian, so who needs New Haven? LOL.
  by Arlington
And actually, if the only reason you were going to CT was some fictional/magical way of leveraging the 750mi myth, then I'd say the train is better off going to Boston (via the regular NEC) if a slot on CT's Metro North can be found.

I think plenty more trains could be profitably extended from NYP to BOS if only there were more slots available on the Metro North.

One thought: extend it to BOS or SPG on weekends only when Metro North slots work differently (I think..or could) since it is a great college/retirement trip train.
  by east point
Question does anyone know how much maintenance is performed at the CLT layover facility and would that increase at the new facility ?
  by Bob Roberts
east point wrote:Question does anyone know how much maintenance is performed at the CLT layover facility and would that increase at the new facility ?
From my observations I can say with some certanty that virtually nothing other than interior cleaning and (perhaps) refuling from a truck happens in Charlotte. Mechanical facilities are so sparse that NCDOT keeps a spare locomotive in Charlotte for the Piedmonts rather than attempt work there using NS mechanics or contractors. I have seen more than one morning when the Carolinia was stuck at the platform while NS mechanics attempted to get her moving (leading to cancellations on two attempted trips).

The new facility, which should be online soon, will have a covered shop and pit IIRC. My sense is that service capabilities will be a big improvement over current conditions but still will not supplant Capital Yard in Raleigh where Piedmont maintenance currently happens.
  by Bob Roberts
There is a new presentation from the director of the NCDOT rail program posted on the NCDOT website (linked below). There are a couple of interesting tidbits:

The New Haven extension is mentioned (without much detail) on pdf page 9. The discussions with Amtrack are labeled as "under evaluation." The budget estimate attached is that NCDOT currently pays Amtrack $4.2million per year for 79 and 80 and that all of that cost would disapear from NCDOT's books if the proposal is implemented.

Pdf 6 shows ridership projections for Piedmont and Carolinian services. From that, it appears that NCDOT sees the Carolinian with one more coach but the ridership figures do not show that they expect longer consists than that.

Slightly off topic there is some nice information on whenthey expect to begin the two new Piedmont trains and open dates for the new Raleigh station, Charlotte Gateway (they are still very vague), Charlotte maintanence facility (before Sept 30).

In addition to the long discussed new stations in Hillsborough and Lexington a new station in Harrisburg is now on the expansion list as well (pdf p 10). No planned open date is available for any of the new mod-route stations.

Pdf 10 mentions studies of 'enhanced food and drink' (including NC beer!) but is unclear if they are referring to the Piedmonts or Carolinian.

http://www.ncleg.net/documentsites/comm ... vision.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by OrangeGrove
Thanks for the link. It's always nice to have a documented source you can refer to.

Somewhat off-topic, but perhaps someone here with greater knowledge of North Carolina rail transportation knows the answer. What is the current (state) thinking on service to Asheville? Are plans abandoned, waiting on future funding that may never happen, or is it now just a railfan fantasy?
  by Bob Roberts
OrangeGrove wrote:
Somewhat off-topic, but perhaps someone here with greater knowledge of North Carolina rail transportation knows the answer. What is the current (state) thinking on service to Asheville? Are plans abandoned, waiting on future funding that may never happen, or is it now just a railfan fantasy?
Its on the state's 'far in the future' list but Wilmington will come first. The state did pay to refurb many of the stations but in reality Asheville service is just a fantasy that (IMO) is probably never going to happen. NS just downgraded the tracks to class II and the loops at Old Fort going up the mountain would make service super slow and never competitive with driving.

Reopening the Saluda grade and serving Asheville from the South would be much more workable service but SC will never pay and Saluda grade is probably done for good with NS downgrades throughout the mountains.
  by SouthernRailway
Bob Roberts, thanks for the link to the report--very helpful!

So the Carolinian is NOT profitable; it recovers only 75% of its costs from ticket fares (plus some other transportation revenue).

The NC legislature is probably very anti-rail, and there's no pro-rail Pat McCrory to balance them out now.

So I'd guess that the NCDOT sees the writing on the wall for future state support for passenger train operations and wants to find a way to keep the train without having to pay for it.
  by Bob Roberts
I don't think the situation is quite as straightforward as that in North Carolina. The legislature is certainly anti-rail however the legislature has generally let the NCRR operate without much interference (it is now wholly owned by the state) and its dividend payments (the NS lease payment) have been allocated to rail improvements rather than the general fund. I believe (but am not certain) that the bulk of this money funds the NCDOT rail operations costs. The last legislation I recall about the NCRR was to allocate a portion of the dividend payments to the state to repairs on the abandoned CSX tracks from Wallace to Wilimington to prepare for passenger service from Raleigh to the coast.

Six (?) years ago there was a movement initiated by some extremists to sell the NCRR (or at least a portion of their 200 ft ROW) but thankfully that died out. There has been a glimmer of recognition that NC's growth will require forms of transportation other than autos, but the legislature is dominated by reps from rural areas and declining towns so they remain hostile to funding accommodations to growth. My fingers are crossed that the General Assembly has forgotten about the NCRR and the NCDOT rail program.

McCrory was not pro rail as governor, he just dutifully did what his far-right puppet masters demanded. The new gov (Roy Cooper) is enough of an old-school democrat that he will be pro rail. Unfortunately its the least powerful governor position in the country.
Last edited by Bob Roberts on Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by electricron
Freight operations could eventually subsidize passenger train operations. The key being reinvesting the freight money back into the tracks in addition to subsidizing the passenger trains. The better the tracks become, the better they can support more freight trains, the more money they will have to subsidize passenger trains.
  by Arlington
THe City of Weldon NC wants a station on the Carolinian/Silvers/Palmetto because they are near the middle of a "no stops" stretch nearly 100 miles long. I put this in the Carolinian thread because NCDOT state-supports all of track, train, and stations.

Newspaper report:
Allan Paul, NCDOT’s Rail Division deputy director, said the local organizations and elected boards have created a good effort.

“If it scores high enough, we would then proceed with a more detailed cost analysis and engineering studies to establish what the cost would be, and then it’s matter of the project competing for funding to actually construct,” Paul said.
2018 ~ 2020 CSX to upgrade tracks in area to support new intermodal terminal
2020 ~ 2023 NCDOT & Locals to revert the building from a library to a train station

The Weldon boosters do have good case:
1) they are about midway on the 98-mile express stretch between Petersburg VA and Rocky Mount NC. Seems like there should be a station at mile 50 +/- 10 miles, which does describe Weldon.
2) And Weldon is a crossroads: sitting where east-west US 158 intersects I-95 running north-south.
3) They have broad city-county-private support
4) They have their original station

Still, I always find hometown reporting a bit comical:
“It’s just a natural location,” Scott said. “I don’t think there’s another location in Halifax County that could work as well as Weldon.”
...because we all know that Halifax County NC is traditionally thought of as a place brimming with great station locations...
  by jhdeasy
I understand that NCDOT just acquired at least 8 former RBBX circus train cars from Feld Entertainment. These are probably smooth sided former UP cars. While they could be rebuilt and used on the Carolinian, it is more likely that they would be rebuilt for use on their intrastate Piedmont trains.
  by Bob Roberts
I had heard the new acquisitions were intended to be parts cars for the existing fleet -- no rebuilds are planned). They plan to store the cars on Carolina Southern tracks near Zebulon I believe.

Unfortunately I can't remember where I had heard that so take it fwiw.

Re Weldon: its a great location...
...to generate four boardings per day.

Having said that, if the S-Line shortcut ever opens (which the Carolinian will relocate to) I think NCDOT will consider a new train that would connect Rocky Mount and Wilson to Raleigh over the current Carolinian routing (to mirror the Star). If this happens, Weldon probably makes as good a termination point as Rocky Mount there is plenty of room for a storage siding and turning facility.
  by Arlington
Bob Roberts wrote:Re Weldon: its a great location...
...to generate four boardings per day.
Its got to be better than that. Rocky Mount's 2-county "metro area" has 152k people. Weldon's Halifax County a third of that 52k

Rocky Mount's ridership is 54k boardings + alightings*, so 27k boardings, or 74 boardings per day
Weldons' would expect 18k boardings + alightings, so 9k boardings, or 24 boardings per day, and maybe slightly better as a better place to/from the NEC (if you can drive faster than the train, you prefer a station closer to the NEC)
*https://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/920/370/NO ... NA15,0.pdf
  by deathtopumpkins
Roanoke Rapids is a decent-sized town, and as someone else mentioned it's right at the intersection of I-95 and US 158, meaning you'll likely get people driving in from surrounding towns (e.g. Emporia, Murfreesboro, Ahoskie, Warrenton, Norlina, maybe even Henderson).
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